WOMEN AND JUSTICE SUMMIT – FINAL DECLARATION
The 5th Women and Justice Summit organized by the Ministry of Family and Social Services and Women and Democracy Association with the theme of “Cultural Codes and Women” concluded with the presentations of valuable participants.
Ministers and deputy ministers, academicians, researchers, authors, journalists, artists, designers, and civil society representatives from various countries attended our summit, which started with the presence of our Honorable President.
In the ministerial-level leaders’ panel, discriminations experienced by women in different countries due to norm-imposing cultural codes were examined. While the necessity of a strong family for a strong society was underlined, it was emphasized that family responsibilities should be shared fairly by men and women. Arrangements in the legal system and state policies in an attempt to prevent violence against women were evaluated by addressing different dimensions of the issue.
At our summit, issues relating to cultural norms were tackled under the titles “Woman as Subject”, “Women at Work”, “Public Space and Market Rules”, “The Visible and Invisible Actors of Modern Times”, and “Pictures of Womanhood”.
The matters identified at these sessions are as follows:
- The application to all women in the world of standardizing cultural codes regarding womanhood that emerged with modernization is an imposition that should be opposed and objected to. The objection to this imposition does not overlook or ignore the unifying and inclusive aspects of culture but rather facilitates the questioning of norms and codes that lead to injustice, inequality, and discrimination.
- A uniform understanding of modernity is as problematic as a uniform understanding of womanhood. It is seen that the principles imposed on the society in colonized lands clash with local cultures because the absoluteness of standardized approaches determined by modernity cannot act with the local wisdom. Women living in countries with a dominant culture imposed on the society, especially those with a colonial past, face pressure from both the colonizing power and the local cultural codes. It is necessary to be aware of this pressure and develop a civil society approach accordingly.
- Women are compelled to prove themselves in every sphere of life and be more hardworking, more beautiful, and even perfect in order to exist in society. The concept of the ideal woman produced by the media prevents women from choosing their own paths. Women should be provided opportunities where they can protect their authenticity, make their own decisions, and channel their energies and talents to an area of their selection.
- Social tranquility and peace play a great role in the formation of cultural codes. In times of uncertainty, women are the first to be deprived of their rights. The measures to be taken today are of utmost importance in terms of determining the future of women. The position, equality, and education of women at the legal and constitutional levels are vital to eliminating the negative effects caused by war and social unrest. This legal infrastructure establishes a profound protection for women regardless of the stances of governments. Therefore, a constitution that does not deviate from the axis of justice is the guarantee of women’s rights.
- Access to education is highly crucial for women’s empowerment and awareness of their rights. The solution to women’s problems lies in the education of youth and the preservation and strengthening of a more inclusive democracy.
- The family should be approached as a whole with the man and the woman, children and elderly; no family member should be left out. Women’s contribution to their families moves societies forward. The emphasis on the family should not overlook the autonomy of women. Thus, the family should not be defined only as the area of married women or women with kids. When structured from this perspective, social policies will provide more effective results. Scientific studies and collaboration with civil society organizations contribute greatly to the development of such policies.
- In many countries, women suffer discrimination due to their religious beliefs, which is exacerbated by Islamophobia. Discrimination also manifests itself in business life. In order to avoid discrimination, women are obliged to prove that they are better than their other colleagues and to work harder. It is observed that women thus either quit their jobs or are forced to give up on dressing modestly in accordance with their beliefs. It is seen that in such cases, even local legal systems can take decisions restricting universal human rights.
- Women’s empowerment in business life is possible through good education and well-determined priorities. Moreover, receiving support is important for women; they should not refrain from asking for help when they need it. Another matter as essential as the strengthening of solidarity is the development of anti-discrimination policies that will smooth the path for women. Improvements in labor law are also valuable from a structural point of view. Many practices that seem like affirmative action should also be seen as compensation for the rights of which women had been deprived throughout history.
- It is indispensable that women take part in production and decision-making mechanisms. This emerges as a factor that also increases profitability. Women can offer new insights with different perspectives and provide inclusive solutions to problems. Therefore, methods for the facilitation of the adaptation of women to business life should be developed, and flexible working opportunities should be extended. Women should also take more initiative in business life, and they should know that they can get certain jobs that are considered men’s work. The number of role models in business life will thus increase and things will be easier for more women.
- In the recruitment process, women are evaluated in accordance with society’s acceptable female roles rather than their education and merit principles. Recruitment criteria should be reviewed in consideration of equity.
- Women should be provided opportunities in the field of art in all parts of the world. While the number of women educated in arts is on the rise, the number of women active in the art sector does not increase proportionally. Women artists around the globe have similar experiences in this respect. One of the striking proofs of this reality is men being the majority when it comes to winning awards at international art festivals.
- Cartoons especially in Europe and the US indoctrinating Islamophobia along with similar representations in the media reproduce discriminatory cultural codes regarding Muslim women. On the other hand, to provide an alternative discourse, it is critical to bring experiences of discrimination and prejudices up for discussion through the use of humorous devices such as cartoons. Another challenge in this regard faced by women artists is access to physical resources. Supporting them accordingly may enable an increase in the number of Muslim women artists.
- Examples from the history and the Ottoman Empire period demonstrate the existence of women in the field of art in Islamic societies. However, the orientalist perspective renders the influence of women in the field of art invisible by objectifying the female body and deconstructing this continuity. Unfortunately, some contemporary approaches also escalate the victimization of Muslim women by feeding this objectification in art.